To say that I love Christmas is an understatement. I cherish the entire Christmas season, and if I could lean in really closely to you, right here as a friend to a friend? I would honestly share my heart and say that some of the early years of my adulthood have felt a bit too much like checking boxes off of an epic to-do list. Some years have felt like a race to a finish line. I have cried too many times on Christmas Eve from exhaustion. I have made lists, checked them twice, and collapsed in a heap of exhaustion from trying too hard and missing the opportunity to worship my Savior.
Friends, this is not the way Christmas has to be. How can we make this Christmas more sacred than the Christmases of years gone by? Can this really be the most sacred Christmas?
True. I have had a few too many exhausted Christmases fully of hustle and bustle but lacking joy. Thankfully, these years have been in the minority of my holiday seasons as a whole. The majority of my Christmas seasons have been full of Jesus. These are the ones that I want to reproduce, bottle up, and share with those I love. I want to gift everyone with a Christmas that makes more of Jesus and less of our own expectations.
Our Holy God is worthy of a more sacred birthday celebration. Our families deserve a culture that deepens our love for Jesus. Our children and classrooms need to see an Advent that teaches about the heart of God. Our neighbors, communities, and our world must hear about a holy day that leads us to become more like Christ. This kind of Christmas isn’t too good to be true. It is fully possible. I would know, because I have experienced this sacred Christmas.
We can go either way. I can go either way, I tell you. We can get caught in a hamster wheel or we can plan ahead for a Christmas that celebrates Emmanuel, God with us. In the absence of planning, I’m afraid we surrender to checking boxes off of shopping lists, rushed grocery store trips, and frantic baking extravaganzas. I once sat in a Christmas Eve service subtly (I hope) breathing into clasped hands because I was so truly anxious and worn out from preparations intended to keep up with the demands of extended family Christmas gatherings and my own unrealistic expectations of Christmas traditions. I will not go back to the frantic commotion of Christmas. I will prepare Him room, but prepare is the operative word here. We cannot simply fall into the pace of a sacred Christmas, because our culture has already set the pace to fast and frazzled. We must prepare so that we may choose slow and sacred.
Hear me when I say that I will resist the temptation to increase your list making. I solemnly vow to share my own experiences of a more sacred Christmas in a way that will ultimately create a more joyful family culture and will center your season on the peace of a Savior born to save.
With that disclaimer behind us, I will (ironically) share lists of sorts. The way you respond to the lists will make all the difference. If they can provide you with avenues for more of Him, then please utilize these resources. If they cause you any added pressure at all, then simply skip that day’s resource and find another day that leads you to the manger in a peaceful way. As with many other things, different people will have different preferences and our only we can fully know the inner workings of our own hearts. Take my ideas as inspiration and when needed, take my inspiration with a grain of salt. What brings me joy may make you sweat with anxiety. The devotion I love may drive you bananas. I’ll trust you to be the judge of what works best for your own heart and for the hearts around you. Agreed?
The following points will serve as our guidelines for every activity toward a more sacred Christmas.
I will filter every idea through these guidelines, making sure the suggested activities, traditions, or resources fit at least one of these guidelines toward a sacred Christmas.
How can we make this Christmas more sacred than years of the past? A Sacred Christmas:
- points us to Jesus.
- deepens our love for Jesus.
- exalts God.
- teaches about the heart of God through the Gospel.
- leads us to become more like Christ.
- guides us to share His love with others (our neighbors, family, community, etc.)
- fills our homes with traditions that nurture maturing hearts.
- builds a family culture of joy in Jesus.
- creates a happy childhood for children and parents without breeding a culture of excessive entitlement.
Let’s do this together! May this be the most sacred Christmas yet!
From my heart to yours,
P.S. I would love to know if you are taking part in “The Most Sacred Christmas” challenge. Tag me on Instagram @Court_Stanford and use this hashtag: #TheMostSacredChristmas
I’ll see you there, readers!